McLeansboro Times-Leader from Mcleansboro, Illinois on October 20, 1955 · Page 64
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McLeansboro Times-Leader from Mcleansboro, Illinois · Page 64

Mcleansboro, Illinois
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 20, 1955
Page 64
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PAGE FOUR THE TIMES-LEADER, McLEANSBORO, ILLINOIS CENTENNIAL EDITION John Stelle "Father" of G. I. Bill of Rights American Legion Magazine Tells What Gl Bill of Rights Did for America "No Program Ever Gave So Many People So Many Skills in So Many Pursuits. ." BY SAM STAVISKY On November 18, 1013, the National Executive Committee of the American Legion adopted a motion offered by the member from Illinois, former Governor John Stelle. Stelle (later National Commander of the Legion) proposed a special committee to draft a bill for the readjustment of World War II veterans, then engaged in global warfare. Twelve days later, National Commander Warren Atherton named the committee, with Stelle as chairman and six other outstanding Legionnaires, including Robert W. Sisson of Arkansas, secretary; Past National Commander Harry Colmery of Kansas; Sam Rorex of Arkansas; W. B. Waldrip of Michigan; Robert M. McCurdy of California; and Maurice F. Devine of New Hampshire. To the committee was added a special Legion task force, including Past National Commander Roane Waring of Tennessee; Lyon W. Brandon of Mississippi; James P. Ringley of Illinois; Pat Kelly of Georgia; and Lawrence J. Fen- Ion of Illinois. On June 22, 1944 (when the Normandy beachhead was expanding in Europe, and New Guinea had been brought under effective control in the Pacific), the program of that special American Legion commitee became Public Law 346 of the 78th Congress. In slightly less than seven months the committee, together with a staff task force and outside consultants, had hammered its program into shape and, with the ian life after World War II "restricted the growth of unemployment during the demobilization period and at the same time added substantially to personal income and consumer demand." The survey goes on to say: "Since the veterans program got under way at the time of a precipitous decline in government demand for goods and services, it helped forestall a postwar economic crisis by stimulating civilian demand." The GI Bill benefits— such as readjustment allowance, schooling EDITOR'S NOTE: This article, by Sam Stavisky, is reprinted from the June, 1955, edition of the American Legion Magazine by permission of the Magazine's Officers. subsistence, housing loan on easy terms—also helped cement the stability of millions of veterans' families, which in turn gave a fresh spurt of power to the postwar economic boom. Trained Manpower In addition, according to the legislative backing of the entire ! VA . the GI Bill helped refill the Legion and thousands of other!national reservoir of trained man- citizens, had turned it into a law j power, "dangerously depleted right the like of which had never been i after the war," with such persons written before. It was known as ! a s engineers, doctors, nurses, scien the GI Bill of Rights. Outstanding service in presenting the bill to the legislature •was rendered by the late Frank Sullivan, of Connecticut, then act lists, radio repairmon, mechanics, construction workers, metal workers, electricians. The total results of the bill sur- The veterans made good the opportunities, of which the major ones were education and training, readjustment allowance; Job-finding aid; loans for homes, farms, and business enterprise. 7,8000,000 Vets Aided Of the more than 7,800,000 ex- GIs who participated in GI Bill training and education, some 2,200,000 attended colleges and universities; 3,500,000 went to schools below the college level; 1,400-000 took on-the-job training; and 700,000 enrolled in institutional on- farm training. "The universal verdict of the accredited schools, colleges and universities is that veterans aided by the GI Bill of Rights made excellent use of their opportunities. The nation is decidedly better off than it would have been had these returning veterans received no further education at public expense," declared Earl J. McGrath, United States Commissioner of Education, in urging Congress to extend the GI Bill benefits to the veterans of the Korean War. On the same occasion Dean Chester H. Katenkamp, of Baltimore Junior College, speaking officially for the 450 schools belonging to the American Association of Junior Colleges—and unofficially sounding the universal chord of approval by the nation's educational leaders—put it this way: "... We believe that the GI Bill of Rights was one of the constructive and beneficial pieces of legislation ever passed for veterans, that its real benefits will continue for a long period of time by reason of the fact that education and training will produce better "THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DO NOT INTEND TO LET THE VETS DOWN" President Franklin D. Roosevelt said as he signed the GI Bill of Rights on June 22, 1944. President Roosevelt is shown here shaking hands with John Stelle of McLeansboro, Just after signing the bill. Three others in the picture, leaving the President's desk, include Senator Scott W. Lucas of Hlinois, front, Senator Bennett Clark of Missouri and Senator Robert Wagner of New York. Backing up this VA assertion is a study by the United States Census Bureau which shows that the average male veteran has completed high school and gone ahead for some college work, while the average male non-veteran has only completed two years of high schoo. "The advantage of educational the program, nonetheless reached the conclusion that with 65 per cent of the veterans in on-job training having reached their employment objective, /»the program had been "highly satisfactory." A study of training courses pursued by veterans under the GI Bill "leaves the impression" that the "vast majority" of the veteran-trainees "were interested in ad- privileges under the GI Bill used, by many veterans after complet- 1 vancing themselves and attaining ing their service" is listed by!a secure position in society," ac- Census as one of the major factors cording to an official information contributing to this difference in!bulletin published by the VA De- educational achievement. jpartment of Veterans Benefits. This training, the VA bulletin Higher Earnings Another Census survey reveals added, "generally prepared them for occupations which require a passed the most optimistic dreams ing"'American""LegTon' 'Nationalthe men of the American Le -1 citizens and more efficient and Legislative Director The Hearst S ion wno conceived it, who drafted productive workers and profession- newspapers had assigned men full it into law, and who fought it \ al people time to the project and kept the i through Congress over bitter op- development of the bill constantly before the public. Roosevelt Signs As he signed the GI Bill on,. . . . t June 22, 1944, President Franklin 1 f ' rst . major attempt to help the D. Roosevelt said: "This law gives Physically able veteran in his trans­ position The nation had a long history of aid to the disabled veterans of our wars. But the GI Bill was the emphatic notice to the men and : ition from war to peace. women of our armed forces that; , T . h % ba ? lc ^ ea ofrthc .bill, ex- the American people do not in- £ lainc . d b >' Dave Camelon the tend to let them down." Hearst newsman who covered the Ten years later, on June 22, dramatic congressional battle over 1954, the U.S. government made l „ he ne . w legislation, was: ". to a ten-year appraisal of the GIj8' vc tnR men who were fighting Bill of Rights, and, through the he opportunity they deserved- Veterans Administration, publicly to restore them - as nearl y as P os " that veterans have generally shot considerable amount of ability and ahead of non-veterans in earnings. s kiH constitute important elements In 1947, according to the survey, i 0 f our economy." the median income of male veter 1 proclaimed "But the veterans have not let the American people down cither." Nor had the GI Bill. On the contrary, the GI Bill had proved to be not only a successful method for helping the 16,000,000 veterans of World War II return and readjust to civilian life, but it also turned out to be a wise national investment in people—the nation's most important resource. The dividends of this unique investment have been unexpectedly large, both to the veteran and the nation—so great, in terms of national security, welfare, and prosperity, that the cost of that vast program has already been paid for many times over. And the divi­ sible, to the position they might have held if they had not been called to serve America." Stelle Started Movement While that was the nut of the bill and the main thought expressed by John Stelle when he started the ball rolling, the Legion never doubted that it would also be a tremendous boon to the country, and its representatives stressed again and again to Congress in 1944 that the GI Bill was "sound national policy." The bill was fought, and almost successfully opposed, by others who claimed that it was "dangerous." The Legion leadership, backed by a thoroughly aroused rank-and- file, and enthusiastically supported "We believe that the GI Bill of Rights is an investment by the government which will really pay dividends in better citizenship, better workers, and people more competent to support the government." Some Colleges Approved Yet a few months after the GI Bill was passed, Dr. Robert M. Hutchins, then chancellor of the University of Chicago, publicly decried the new program. Colleges and universities, he said, would be converted into "educational hobo jungles," and the veterans into "educational hoboes." Never was a prophecy wronger! Ten years later it had been proved beyond a doubt that the veteran-student was more serious ans between 25 and 34 years of age, was only $2401, as against $2585 for non-vets in the same age bracket. Six years later, the median income of the veterans rose to 51 percent, to S3631, while the median income of non-veterans rose only 19 percent, to $3065. "The higher income of these veterans may reflect the combined influence of the increase in work experience and the higher level of education which veterans have achieved as compared with non- veterans," the Census Bureau commented. The heavy flow of ex-GIs into college stimulated university expansion programs, and gave a vigorous boost to the junior college movement. The $2,000,000,000 in tuition and fees proved to be a Many Skills, Many Pursuits Key factors of the well-being of a nation include the skills of its workers, the abilities of its businessmen, the capacity of its professional men, and the husbandry of its farmers. No single national program ever gave so many people so many skills in so many pursuits as did the GI Bill. One-third of all who took GI Bill training enrolled in craft, trade and industrial courses. More than 700,000 went into mechanical train ing, principally for repairing autos. Nearly 450,000 went into radio communications fields. Over 380,000 undertook training as carpen ters, bricklayers, cement workers plasterers, painters, plumbers, pipefitters, and tilesetters. Metal- JOHN STEIXE of Illinois is pictured here at a Congressional hearing in 1944, stating that the GI Bill would help vets and the nation, too. He led the Legion committee that wrote the bill. minded, more intent on getting financial "shot in the arm" for •dends will keep rolling in for gen-' by the public, smashed through •erations. the opposition of bureaucrats, edu- SelfPaying Proposition cators, labor groups, business Even in terms of the least im- groups, real estate lobbies, social portant standard of measurement —dollars—the GI Bill has shown itself to be a self-paying proposition. For example, the education and training program under the GI Bill has cost Uncle Sam some $15,000,000,000, according to VA estimates. However, the same government statisticians calculate that by 1970, the more than 7,800,000 veterans workers—and even of other veterans organizations. Four of them, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Disabled American Veterans, the Military Or der of the Purple Heart, and the Regular Veterans Association sent an open letter to the Congress on Feb. 16, 1944, opposing the bill- specifically the educational pro visions—and urging Congress "not to be stampeded into hasty and ahead, and maturer than the non veteran. Typical were the results of a 3 1-2-year study at Brooklyn College which concluded that the veterans held a "slight but consistent superiority" over the non- veteran students. College standards, instead of falling, as direfully predicted by GI Bill opponents, rose under the impact of GI students questing for knowledge. "The veterans have brought stability, maturity, higher standards of work, and a broadened adult viewpoint to the classrooms and campus," commented the social survey magazine, School and Society, six years after World War II. Through the GI Bill, the VA noted in its tenth anniversary sum mary of the program, World War II veterans have become the best educated group of people in the history of the United States. who took training under the Gl Bill will have paid off the full cost j possibly unwise legislation." of the program because through Appeared Hopeless their training these vets have al- [ At times the battle appeared ready attained an income level at i hopeless. The odds and the ob- which they are paying an extra stacles appeared insurmountable.* the hard -pressed schools. The tui tion and subsistence permitted tens of thousands of young Americans to go to college who would have been unable to further their education simply for the lack of funds. Furthermore, reports the Twentieth Century Fund study, the fact that many veterans did take advantage of the GI educational benefits to go to college is bound to spread the desire for higher education and to affect the long -run enrollment trend upward. Veterans surging into below-college level classrooms sparked the creation of some 7600 new educational and training institutions. Public schools created and expanded job-training classes to aid the eager ex-GIs. billion dollars a year in federal income taxes Through the GI Bill loan guaranty program, the veterans have purchased 4,000,000 homes and have become America's largest single group of home owners. The repayment trend of the past decade gives evidence that these vet erans are excellent mortgage risks. ,Meanwhile, these veterans and their GI Bill homes contribute to the commonweal of their com munities, countries, and states thru the payment of real estate taxes Aided Prosperity Surprisingly few studies have been made of the over-all impact of the GI Bill upon the national economy. However, the huge five- year study called "America 's Needs and Resources: A New Survey," just released by the Twentieth Centurv Fund, gives the GI Bill an important role in America's post-World War II prosperity. The Fund reports that the "unprecedented" GI program on behalf of veterans returning to civil But the American Legion vowed that never again would America permit its men who served in war to be forced to walk the streets selling apples as they were after World War I. The specter of that national disgrace hung over the Legion's GI Bill battalion like a flag, and gave the Legion's drive new strength when the outlook for victory was dimmest. The GI Bill, noted Richard S. Jones in his A History of The American Legion, "was the largest single legislative achievement of the Legion." It was for sure. It was also an earnest promise by the American people — through Congress — that the United States was still a land of opportunity, and that for the veterans, the GI Bill was the key to that opportunity. The nation made good its pledge. *"I saw The GI Bill Written," by David Camelon, The American Legion Magazine, Sept., Oct., and Nov., 1949. What Public Law 346 (G.I. Bill) Did (or Veterans National prosperity flowed naturally from "the largest single legislative achievement of the American Legion—the GI Bill, of which John Stelle of McLeansboro was the daddy." Here is an estimate of the veterans trained: 1,400,000 Job Trainees 2,200 College Students 450,000 Communicators 280,000 Metal Workers 240,000 Accountants 380,000 Construction Workers 430,000 Salesmen 100,000 Lawyers 63,000 Doctors 180,000 Electricians 744,000 Scientists 700,000 Mechanics 238.000 Teachers 750,000 Farmers 145,000 Engineers Built 4,000,000 homes. Job Training Veterans trained in the under- college-level schools showed, thru a sampling poll, that they felt the I government and themselves .had | received value for money spent on their education. A large number of the veterans replying to the poll expressed thanks to the nation for the opportunity afforded them by the GI Bill. The survey disclosed that three out of four veterans had found a job as a direct result of their training. On-the-job training, despite widely publicized abuses by a small minority of veterans and chiseling schools, also made a substantial contribution to the national inter est. The trainees were given the opportunity to earn while learning a trade. During the peak of the on-job enrollment, the National Association of State Approval Agencies queried 19,000 participating employers. The poll disclosed that the employers wanted to continue their job-training programs by a preference of three to one, and that they consider the programs worthwhile by a vote of six to one The survey also revealed that more than one-third of the vet trainees had been hired by the firms which had trained them, and that half as many again were working elsewhere in jobs for which they had been trained under the GI Bill. A congressional committee, while deploring abuses in Credit for Bill Placed in Record Of Congress Recognition of the work of John Steile in fostering the idea of the GI Bill of Rights, and in developing Congressional sentiment and approval as chairman of an American Legion committee on the measure, has been placed in the Congressional Record. When the American Legion magazine carried a comprehensive article on "What the GI Bill did for America" in its June, 1955 edition, Congressman Mclvin Price of Illinois requested, and was granted, approval for the entire article (reprinted on this page) to be inserted in the Congressional Record. Congressman Price's comments at the time he presented the request for aproval were: Mr. Speaker, John Stelle, of Illinois, more than any other man in the United States, can be regarded as the father of the GI Bill of Rights. Under leave to do so, I include with remarks I herewith make on the House floor an article from the American Legion magazine of June 1955, which outlines some of the benefits which came not only to the veterans but to our national economic life from the enactment of the GI Bill by a Democratic Congress in 1944. Probably no one within the Legion or outside it did more to promote this program than did John Stelle. He led others in putting the full force and influence of the Legion behind an idea which resulted from a motion he made on November 18, 1943, before the national executive committee of the Legion. In that motion, he proposed a special committee to draft a bill for the readjustment of World War II veterans then still engaged in fighting for their country. John Stelle became chairman of that special committee and steered the course of his idea to reality. There were, of course, many men within the Legion who joined with John Stelle in the promotion of the GI Bill of Rights, and he would be the first to give them the full credit for the success of the Legion planning to promote this legislation. But I think they would also join me in paying tribute to John Stelle as the father of the idea and as the keyman in bringing about successful congressional action on a proposal, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt said as he signed the bill on June 22, 1944, gives emphatic notice to the men and women of our Armed Forces that the American people do not intend to let them down. when industry was attempting to switch to peacetime production and the future of the nation was uncertain." Perhaps the best evaluation of the GI Bill education and training benefits is a single sentence from a Teaguc Committee report: Aids Future Generation "The good that has been accomplished and which will show itself more clearly in each succeeding year and in succeeding generations is incalculable" A second major clement of the GI Bill—readjustment allowances working attracted more than 280,- 1 —was so subjected to bad pub- 000 ex-GIs, including 62,000 who specialized in jewelry and watch repairing. Another 180,000 vets trained as electricians or in electrical equipment manufacturing. Refrigeration and air conditioning courses drew more than 115,000 vets. One-tenth of the veterans—around 700,000—enrolled in managerial or business administration training. More, than 100,000 ex- GIs went into law courses, and over 240,000 into accounting and auditing. The clerical sales occupations attracted more than 430,000 vets. NATIONAL PROSPERITY flowed naturally from "the largest single legislative achievement of the American Legion." 238,000 Teachers Teaching was the objective of 238,000 veterans, and 744,000 veterans aimed at becoming scientists. The social studies and social welfare work were pursued by some 100,000 ex-servicemen. Over 460,000 vets were trained in the humanities. Some 158,000 veterans were given special training in domestic, personal, and protective services. Nearly 10 percent of all the veterans training under the GI Bill aimed for agricultural goals, chiefly through the on-farm institutional training, a combination of classroom studies and practical farm work. In 1952, a House Select Committee headed by Rep. Olin Tea­ guc, of Texas, 'after an intensive investigation of the GI Bill programs, reported to Congress as ; follows: "As a readjustment device, there is little question that the educational program provided a spot for literally millions of young bewild ered veterans. "It provided a place where they could learn, live, and at the same time adjust themselves to their civilian surroundings. "Almost every American knows a young ex-serviceman who entered training, found his life's work, settled down, and is now doing well. "It is significant to note that there has been no national -incident of any importance involving disgruntled ex-servicemen . . , fol lowing the termination of World War II. This fact cannot be overemphasized. Our servicemen returned in great numbers at a time licity through a relatively small number of abuses that even today there is little understanding by the public of the beneficent impact of this provision on the nation's economy and general welfare. At the unyielding insistence of The American Legion, the GI Bill contained a provision which provided that GIs returning to civilian life would be given $20 a week as a readjustment allowance, for a maximum of 52 weeks, while seeking work. It was easy for the GI Bill detractors to pin—unjustly— the label of "52-20 Club" on the entire program. Yet those who have studied this facet of the GI Bill are convinced that the readjustment allowance was an important factor in the integration of some 14,000,000 veterans into the nation's labor force within a few years after the end of the war, with a minimum of confusion to the nation and hardship to the veterans. Consider that near the end of World War II there were 54,000,000 persons in the civilian labor force, hardly any unemployed. When the fighting ceased, the war plants closed down, other plants shut down temporarily to convert from wartime to peacetime production. Labor Readjustment In the midst of this economic shock, some 11 million veterans were dumped on the labor market within a period of 12 months. For practical purposes, nearly all of them were unemployed. Leading economists freely predicted that the idle would quickly number seven million, and they urged business and government alike to make decisions based upon an impending post-war economic collapse. In fact, there were no riots, no armies of apple peddlers, no marches by hungry veterans seeking aid of their government. The public at large was hardly conscious of a veterans' unemployment problem. The readjustment allowance served as a cushion—together with mustering out pay—to tide the veteran over the rough period between discharge and getting a job. During the five-year life of thn (Continued oh page five)

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